Monday, 12 December 2011

Success on eBay?

Well, it's a question rather than a statement. I was reading one of those men's magazines the other day (FHM since you ask, the Jan 11 edition if you want to check) and there was an article entitled 'Get Rich Ideas' and there at number 8 was 'Set Up an E Bay Shop'. I've done a bit of eBay trading in the past so thought that this must be worth a minute or two of my schedule to see if there are any good ideas that I am missing. I'm usually pretty good on irony but when the first paragaph ended with the statement 'buy your products cheap, sell them at a profit' I did think that I was rather wasting my time. This was rather confirmed when a so-called expert was then quoted as saying 'The key to success on eBay is finding items that sell'. Really?

Anyway, all that aside, I do scan the eBay historical figures section on an irregular basis to see what is currently doing well. A few years ago you could not go wrong with Flames of War. If it was decently painted and presented then it was almost certain to sell. As long as you didn't expect to make a living out of it then it was a way of funding your hobby. At present it seems as if Napoleonics are enjoying a bit of a resurgence with once again, well painted figures seeming to fetch good prices. There also seems to be a thriving individual pieces market with gunfighters, generals, pirates and such like being snapped up. There is a Henry V figure on there as I write which is jaw droppingly good and at a current price of £36 (or thereabouts) is typical of the genre although I would stress that this is at the upper end of what people seem prepared to pay.

But what constitutes a reasonable price? I reckon that for the average foot figure that is well painted then if you get £5 you are doing verywell. Given that it must take a minimum of an hour for the work necessary to create the figure in the first place then you have to wonder if you wouldn't be better off getting a job that pays the minimum wage. I see that the painting pros charge about £20 for a foot figure if you go straight for the commission route although even these acrylic gods seem to routinely use eBay.

So I throw the question open. Is it really as simple as well painted, photographed and priced figures or is there more to it? Does anyone have any tricks of the trade they are willing to share? Does timing play a part? I try to launch my sales at early Sunday evening on the basis that this gives the best chance of snaring weekend browsers - and before you ask, this is only a subjective view. I have no evidence whatsoever to back this assertion up.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The V22 Osprey

I'm not an enthusiastic flyer but unfortunately its an occupational hazard. For anyone currently travelling around Southern Helmand this means, more often than not, an excursion in the technological curiosity that is the V22 Osprey. This is the US Marine aircraft of choice these days. It used to be the rather more traditional and hence reassuring CH-53 in which whilst you got liberally showered in hydraulic oil, at least you knew that the rotor holding you up in the air was not going to perform a 90 degree turn whilst you were several hundred feet up.

For those unaware of its party trick, the Osprey turns from a helicopter (see picture) into a conventional aircraft by rotating those very large engines on the end of each wing into the forward position after take off (and back again for landing). Every passenger is grimly aware of the casualty strewn development path that the aircraft followed. Crashes were common and for the more imaginative hold dweller it does not make for a comfortable flight.

I am no aeronautical engineer but the physics of the thing seems to demand a very steep rate of climb. Once you know what is about to happen you hold on very tight as it feels like a 45 degree angle of ascent. Bags have been known to fly out of the very open back doors and even the tail gunner crewmen (normally the most insouciant of individuals) can be seen to be grasping onto anything solid with both hands as they fight their battle with gravity. Once airborne it's fast but blessed with rapid deceleration and a series of alarming clunks and thumps. What was that? Wheels coming down? The rotors rotating? Something falling off?

Helmand has its share of challenges but I am never so grateful for its rocky terrain as when I step off the Osprey.